Cancer Research to Benefit from Twitter for Cells Posted on October 13, 2015March 13, 2018 by Carly du Toit An international team of researchers have completed a study into cell behaviour, providing insight into how different, specialised cell types communicate as a cohesive network. The researchers have produced the first map of cell-to-cell communication which shows the division of labour between cell types and reveals the ways cells use proteins to pass hundreds of messages between each other. This will help advance cancer research in the future. The lead author, Professor Alistair Forrest, recently joined the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in WA as Laboratory Head of Systems Biology and Genomics to continue his work with a renewed focus on cancer. Professor Forrest says systems biology studies all elements (typically genes or proteins) simultaneously to see how they work together in a system (or network) instead of focusing on only one or two genes at a time. “What we have revealed in this new research is that cells have many ways of talking to each other.” Imagine twitter for cells – hundreds of cell types telling each other what is happening via hundreds of different messages. Professor Forrest says the work has important implications for medicine. “The proteins involved are actually well known to the general public. Insulin, human growth factor and leptin are important in diabetes, height and obesity. This type of signalling is also very important in our immune response to infectious diseases. It’s also important in cancer – in particular neuroblastoma and lung cancer.” The researchers believe that further investigation will provide answers into what happens to this intercellular information in cancer cells and how cancer avoids the immune system. It is hoped that this research will eventually help identify new therapeutic targets to improve treatments for people battling cancer. The original article was published on the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, click here to read more.